Performance Lab creates virtual fitness coach using wearable tech video

RORY O'SULLIVAN & NICOLE JOHNSTONE/Stuff.co.nz

ARDA believe they are leading the way in wearable fitness technology, and are developing software 'engines' that will deliver intelligent and adaptable fitness coaching.

An Auckland company developing a virtual exercise coach using wearable technology is doubling its headcount in preparation for growth.

Performance Lab on Auckland's North Shore is about to launch its sports training software called Arda which acts as a coach during exercise by providing real time advice based on a user's performance.

Performance Lab co-founder Kerri McMaster said Arda was not hardware, but a "software engine" which could integrate with a range of devices, including wrist bands, chest bands, glasses or earphones, that provide metrics such as heart rate, speed, stride rate, stride length and altitude.

Stuff reporter John Anthony and Performance Lab co-founder Jon Ackland put the company's Arda fitness coach through its ...
NICOLE JOHNSTONE/FAIRFAX NZ

Stuff reporter John Anthony and Performance Lab co-founder Jon Ackland put the company's Arda fitness coach through its paces.

Arda then provides real time advice based on information gathered.

Performance Lab co-founder Jon Ackland said one of the problems with wearable fitness technology was that users received a lot of data but did not know what to do with it.

"Most of the exercise that people do is very ineffective really because they don't have any support," Ackland said.

The more a user trained with Arda the more the engine learnt, resulting in highly specific coaching advice, he said.

"The idea is to let Arda work you out rather than stick you into some sort of cookie cutter situation."

Arda could provide feedback in text, audio and visual displays.

"The key to coaching is timeliness and relevance so if you can say something to somebody at the time that's always better than afterwards."

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Rather than presenting a bunch of numbers Arda provided advice specific to a users' ability and training preference.

For example it could tell a user how hard they needed to run up a hill or how long their stride should be.

"It can be the motivational coach, it can be the hardcore do or die coach or it can be the numbers orientated coach."

Ackland said Arda could be used for a range of exercise including cycling, kayaking rowing, running or walking and was designed for people of all abilities.

McMaster said Arda was designed to be incorporated into wearable fitness devices belonging to some of the world's largest sports companies.

Because of non-disclosure agreements she could not disclose what customers Performance Lab had closed deals with.

But the types of companies which had products that Arda could be incorporated into included Nike, Fitbit, MapMyFitness and Runkeeper, she said.

Details about partnerships would be revealed in late December, she said.

Within nine months Performance Lab plans to double its number of employees to about 30.

It was looking for developers, scientists, innovators and most importantly people with a passion for exercise, she said.

"We are innovative, we are constantly developing things that do not exists."

 - Stuff

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